Monday, 28 January 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 24

After a cup weekend full of excellent performances by lower league teams against teams from the top flight (including embarrassing exits for Liverpool and Tottenham), it’s back to Premier League business midweek. A cup replay will absorb more of Hazard’s ban, whatever length it is. Enjoy the next 3 gameweeks thoroughly, there’s an international break coming.

Gameweek 24 fixtures

Aston Villa v Newcastle
Norwich v Tottenham
QPR v Man City
Reading v Chelsea
Stoke v Wigan
Sunderland v Swansea
Arsenal v Liverpool
Everton v West Brom
Fulham v West Ham
Man Utd v Southampton

The Big Boys

Shinji Kagawa, Manchester United midfielder

The plum tie of the gameweek sees Manchester United host Southampton. Keep You-Know-Who (costing You-Know-What), he will score. He scored a hat trick in the reverse fixture, so there’s history. Also, how about some of Kagawa (7.9)? He’s had time to feel his way back into fitness and this feels like it could be a breakout game for him.

Regardless of an embarrassing cup result, Chelsea have a promising three fixtures coming, particularly for the attacking players. Juan Mata (10.0) is set to start all these games after getting half a rest in the cup match. Demba Ba (8.8) is costly but worth it given the defences Chelsea are set to face before the international break.

The blockbuster fixture of the midweek is Liverpool’s trip to the Emirates. Both teams sweated their cup ties with Arsenal coming through and Liverpool losing. You can always rely on Suarez (10.5) to perform, but at home you have to fancy Arsenal. Podolski (8.3) was an inspired choice last gameweek and it’s better you hang on to him and Walcott (9.4).

Tottenham visit Norwich, who have been in dismal form (1 draw and 4 losses in their last 5 games). Should be a good day out for their boys, particularly Lennon (7.3) who’s been good value for money lately.

Manchester City visit the team they will never forget, QPR. With both teams at opposite ends of the table, expect this one to be a good one for City’s players. QPR might score at home, but there’s bound to be joy for the fit-again Aguero (10.9). Hold Dzeko if you have him, but otherwise you’re better off not guessing if it’ll be him or Tevez to partner Aguero tomorrow.

The Other Guys

Everton host West Brom in a clash between teams that have been punching above their weight this season (that they sandwich names like Arsenal and Liverpool in the table is proof of this). Fellaini (7.7) hasn’t been scoring but has returned high bonus points and this looks like a ripe game for him to find the net given that WBA haven’t kept a clean sheet away from home this season. Baines (7.5) has been racking up the points lately, though he’s not a recommended retail purchase. Hold rather than buy.

Newcastle and Villa have been pretty dismal lately, and while Villa are always a team to stay away from, Newcastle’s fixtures following this one are bad enough for you not to splash on Cisse or any members of their new French squadron.

Sunderland v Swansea is Fletcher (7.1) vs Michu (8.4). Next.

Hosting Wigan will be a welcome relief to Stoke who’ve been put through the wringer in recent weeks. A good matchup for their defenders and Begovic (5.8).

It’s hard to make much out of either Fulham or West Ham given recent form, but West Ham haven’t been much of an away team. Either way, stay away from this one if you’re buying retail, but keep Berbatov (7.0) or Ruiz (5.4) if you have either.

The Blogger’s Team

Placeholder team. I am dumping Sagna for Zabaleta before the deadline.

Meme of the Week

Friday, 18 January 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 23

Keep any eye on the weather situation in England, and the match cancellation news. It’s suggested  that you don’t spend your transfers till close to the deadline. Let’s be frank - if you swotted over fixture lists for an hour and picked a guy, and then his game got postponed, it would suck.

Gameweek 23 fixtures

Liverpool v Norwich
Man City v Fulham
Newcastle v Reading
Swansea v Stoke
West Ham* v QPR
Wigan v Sunderland
West Brom v Villa
Chelsea v Arsenal*
Tottenham v Man Utd
Southampton v Everton
Arsenal* v West Ham*

The Big Boys

Theo Walcott, Arsenal midfielder

Arsenal have a double gameweek away to Chelsea (which is becoming less and less daunting a fixture by the week) and home to West Ham. It’s certain most of you will load up on these guys. The best of the bunch are Walcott (9.2), Gibbs (5.7) and Podolski (8.3) who is rated as a doubt but will play. Cazorla has big gameweeks followed by several small ones, and is too pricey to take the risk. Speaking of risks, how about Wilshere (6.4), who has started taking set pieces and is getting further forward? As for their first opponents Chelsea, Juan Mata (10) and Eden Hazard (9.4) should be held on to, but nothing more.

Spurs take on Man United in a fixture where they have a terrible home record. The Lilywhites have tightened up at the back lately, but since when has that been a problem for Robin van Persie (14.1)? Hold on to Bale (9.8) if you have him, but there’s no retail value from Spurs players this week.

Fulham travel to the Etihad, and it’s hard to look beyond a City win with points across the lineup. The pick of the bunch are Zabaleta (6.0) and the in-form Dzeko (7.4)

Liverpool looked very good with Sturridge (7.3) on the pitch at Old Trafford, and after scoring on his cup and league debuts, there’s little doubt he’ll start against an opponent Liverpool love. Hold the old premium boys Suarez (10.4) and Gerrard (9.4), but go easy on Reds defenders.

The Other Guys

West Brom are playing Villa, and that’s all it should take really. Romelu Lukaku (6.5) has been among the goals, and Villa among the, er, concedes. There’s not much doubt who West Brom will put up front anymore given the Belgian’s recent form.

Newcastle – Reading is a fixture between two improving teams, and while Pavel Pogrebnyak (4.3) has begun scoring regularly, I suggest you don’t dig too deep into this game.

Wigan v Sunderland. Steven Fletcher (7.0) is a minor doubt but he should play.

Everton travel to a club which has had defensive troubles all season and (inexplicably) just had their manager sacked. All the platitudes about lack of gratitude aside, this means a good day out for Marouane Fellaini (7.6).

West Ham play twice, and after Nolan (6.5) and Joe Cole (5.6) were off the starting lineup against United in the cup, one presumes they will play a big role in this double gameweek. Nolan has the tools to trouble Arsenal and I’m still big on Cole after his debut. If you’re looking at a cheap striker, Carlton Cole (4.9) is your man – all he has to do to score his price is show up.

Stoke have been leaking goals lately, but after looking at the quality of the opposition they can hardly be blamed. This fixture should be a much better one for the Potters. All I can say about this game is, hold Michu (8.3).

The Blogger’s Team

Meme of the week

A rather dark tone to this one

Friday, 11 January 2013

Fantasy Premier League: Gameweek 22

Another late post, because I was out all day yesterday enjoying dad’s birthday. Apologies.

This is a double gameweek for Chelsea and Southampton, and next week is a double gameweek for Arsenal and West Ham. Do keep this in mind to maximize your points in the immediate gameweeks as many of you will no doubt play your January wildcards (if you have not already done so).

Gameweek 22 fixtures

Aston Villa v Southampton
Everton v Swansea
Fulham v Wigan
Norwich v Newcastle
Reading v West Brom
Stoke v Chelsea
Sunderland v West Ham
Man Utd v Liverpool
Arsenal v Man City
QPR v Tottenham
Chelsea v Southampton

The Big Boys

Juan Mata, Chelsea midfielder
Yes, I know this is last season's kit. I love it.

Chelsea have become a fantastic away team under Rafael Benitez and Stoke have begun to leak goals, so that means armband for Juan Mata (9.9) who is the surest starter among Chelsea’s attackers. If he's out of your budget, Eden Hazard (9.4) is an equally good choice. Ross Turnbull (4.3) will play the next two games for Chelsea, and all he has to do to score his price is show up. A clean sheet would be a welcome bonus. UPDATE: Petr Cech might be back.

It’s been a while since we had a blockbuster weekend in the Premier League. The biggest of the matches this weekend is the latest edition of the historic Man United-Liverpool rivalry. Given the way the sides have shaped up this season, it looks set to be a straight shootout between Luis Suarez (10.4) and Robin van Persie (14.1). Keep your eye on Sturridge (7.3), his playing position (if he starts) and what value he might offer.

The other box office fixture is Manchester City’s visit to Arsenal. They do say “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, and City have taken it quite literally – they have not scored at the Emirates since 2007. With Yaya Toure in Africa and Nasri and Aguero injured, City will likely struggle to end that run. What Aguero’s hamstring and recent matches mean is that Edin Dzeko (7.4) is the best bet if you’re buying City. In view of Arsenal’s upcoming double gameweek, Theo Walcott (9.0) is something of a must-have, and Bacary Sagna (5.1) could provide some cheap differential.

Harry Redknapp faces his previous employers. Tottenham have the joint best form with Man Utd in the league over the last 5 matches (4 wins, 1 draw). Ignoring all the irrelevant subjective variables (like “Harry knows Spurs inside out” - Fat lot of good that did AVB against Chelsea), Spurs should kill QPR. Gareth Bale (9.8) is back from his suspension, and should enjoy himself. Defoe is inconsistent, and Spurs defenders aren’t a good idea given the upcoming fixtures.

The Other Guys

Pavel Pogrebnyak, Reading forward

West Brom haven’t been the best away team this season, and Reading have tightened up at the back since set-piece taker Ian Harte (3.8) replaced Shorey at left back. Also, Pavel Pogrebnyak (4.3) is back in the team and back among the goals. Cheap value.

Sunderland have some promising fixtures coming, which is good news of present and future owners of Steven Fletcher (7.0). Joe Cole (5.6) had a good debut with a brace of assists in the cup, and is worth a punt given his quality crossing from left. With 0.9% ownership and a double gameweek coming, he could provide some value differential.

Everton face a Swansea side fresh from two great cup matches against London’s biggest teams. One word – Michu (8.2). Graham (5.4) has embarked on quite a scoring run, though it is uncertain whether he will start. He’s more of a hold than a buy. Everton have Fellaini (7.4), who was quite devastating in the reverse fixture in September.

Southampton play away twice and despite being a terrible away team, they should have a good time against Villa. Enter Rickie Lambert (6.3). You can apply the Turnbull logic to Luke Shaw (4.0). Southampton have a bad defensive record away, so hold Benteke (6.7) unless you have someone better in mind.

Wigan have the joint worst form over the last 5 games, and they travel to a Fulham side who have their attackers fit. It’s going to be a field day for Berbatov (7.1) and Ruiz (5.4).

And who do Wigan have the joint worst form with? Norwich and Newcastle, who face each other. Neither team is particularly adept at parking the bus, so there should be goals in this one. Joy for owners of Snodgrass (6.2) and Cisse (8.8, probably overpriced), who will play a central striker role now that Ba is gone.

The Blogger’s Team

Meme of the week